The Uncanny Valley
Conspiracy theories are nothing new. Not only has the term existed for over a century (and the idea likely much longer), but our modern lives are surrounded by them. For most of us, conspiracies are the stuff of distant relatives on Facebook, those whom we either ignore or quietly unfollow. There is, however, a certain allure to them. There must be, or else why would so many people believe them?
This is the appeal of The Uncanny Valley. Campbell’s protagonist, Paul, is steeped in conspiracy theories, convinced that the government is after him and is gaining control over everyone’s lives. The book opens with him on the way to Mexico with his wife and two daughters, convinced that only there will they be able to be truly free. The chapters alternate between Paul’s journey south and his life before the flight. We get our details in bits and pieces, drawing us slowly into his mind, just as we are slowly drawn toward the border. It is an eerie journey; Paul’s paranoia about helicopters and government surveillance is by turns understandable and unnerving, and I found myself unable to pull away. The secondary characters are just as well written, even Paul’s young children, Stone and Rachel. It can be difficult to write children believably, but Campbell does an excellent job of giving them distinct personalities that feel accurate to the unorthodox lives their father has pulled them into.
To be perfectly honest, at the start of the book, I was a little skeptical. I thought it would become one of those novels that we are all far too familiar with: the tale of one man attempting to be heroic in a world which will allow no heroes, one in which the protagonist speaks the author’s words under a thin veil of fiction. While I cannot say what Campbell’s views on various conspiracies are (which is a good thing, though I don’t have enough room to go into the question of how much a work belongs to an author rather than to a reader), I can say that the novel is far more complex than it appears at first. It’s a magnificent, gripping tale, one which you will find yourself hard-pressed to put down.
|Page Count||375 pages|
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